This weekend marks a very exciting “first” for me. I get to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mom. While I’m thrilled to have the chance to celebrate on Sunday, I’ll be honest, I kind of feel like I’m cheating, considering my baby’s not arriving for a few more months. Can I really celebrate something I know nothing about? Even though I am technically a mother, I haven’t earned my “Mom-stripes” yet. I haven’t gone through a painful 15+ hour delivery. I haven’t experienced the sleepless nights filled with crying babies or the endless feedings and diaper changes. Actually, all of that is very foreign to me. Not only do I know nothing about it, I doubt my capabilities as a parent. There are plenty of women like myself who have this hang-up. Recently, my view on motherhood has been altered by this truth: God calls women to motherhood because it’s natural and instinctual. Regardless of my lack of experience, I know this journey to motherhood is actually not as foreign as I am perceiving it. God gives us the bodies and tools we need to be mothers, as well as the resources we need to succeed as mothers.
From what I have seen and heard as an expectant mother, many millennial women are turned off by the idea of being mothers (as well as committed relationships and marriage—a different topic for a different time). I hear more and more of my girlfriends and acquaintances making arguments against being mothers. I have heard them say things such as, “Well, I just don’t think I could ever be a mom;” or “That’s great for you, but I just could never see myself raising kids.” I know these doubts all too well and they only continue to creep in as I get farther along in my pregnancy. However, when women choose to let their fear of parenthood decide their future, they are going against their very nature. They have bought the lie that some women are meant to parent, and some are not. Biologically we know this is not true. God gave us the ability to procreate for a reason and even women who cannot biologically have their own children turn out to be great parents through adoption or fostering. Young women should stop letting their self-criticism and cautiousness prevent them from reaching their potential as great moms.
We doubt we have good nurturing instincts. We are the generation that has been raised Googling our questions about everything. The result has been reservations about the abilities God entrusted us with. I want to read every mommy blog and buy every baby book out there, believing that child psychologists will have the best answers instead of using the wealth of knowledge I have in real people around me. Motherhood is very communal, and we have the guidance of our mothers, in-laws, and friends all around us. Women have been having babies for many millennia, and along with those women were groups of ladies helping them along the way. Since I shared the good news that my husband and I are expecting, I have been flooded with advice from other moms. I’ve heard some people tell me that it’s “unwanted advice,” and to be wary of it. Why in the world would I want to do that? What’s better than having someone who’s been in your shoes tell you what’s worked and failed for them? These ladies are Superwomen in my book! And it’s comforting to know that they once felt just as inexperienced as me.
Maybe some don’t doubt their ability of being mother material, but rather, they see motherhood as a risk of potential error or hurt. It’s easy to remember failures from the past. Not every child has grown up with a strong mother. Moms have made poor decisions that have affected their children negatively. These women only see motherhood as possible heartbreak. They let these issues define motherhood for them. While motherhood is natural, there is no naturally perfect mom. And sometimes, feelings of inadequacy will linger. That’s natural, too. We must not let that hinder us from using our gift. It’s time to celebrate our ability to mother rather than to overanalyze and fret over it. What makes a great mom is the ability to recognize and even embrace those moments, instead of trying to perfect them.
I am grateful God has given us what we need to be great mothers. I am glad to know it doesn’t come from a book, blog, or forum. I am glad to know that He’s given us other moms to help us. Most importantly, I am grateful that He’s given us grace to mess up when we show our imperfections. I hope that you are encouraged and empowered by these truths, Moms and other moms-to-be! Happy Mother’s Day from Engage and Ashley Gillespie, the pre-mom.